Sunday, October 5, 2008

Eclecticism, Part A

Eclecticism can be defined as the enthusiasm for the imitation of work of the past through historicism, revivalism, and traditionalism (Pile, 301). The overall idea of Eclecticism was that originality was forbidden and only an imitation of the past was acceptable (Pile, 302). This was a movement in which designers looked to the past for stylistic influences of periods such as Victorian, French-Renaissance, and Gothic and included monumental figures such as Richard Morris Hunt, McKim, Mead, & White, and George Herbert Wyman. Many of these important people came from a very influential school of architecture: The Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. This particular school paved the way for future design school curriculum's, including our very own University of Kentucky.
Under this method, students were given a written "program" of requirements for a building desired by some imagined client. Each student then prepared designs under the direction of a "critic" who operated an atlier or studio. On a given date, all of the designs by the many students in a class were presented in the form of elaborate drawings to be criticized and judged by a "jury" of established professionals. High marks in many such judgements could earn a diploma that certified a high level of achievement and skill. The Beaux-Arts method was so successful it attracted students from all over the world, and the kind of design encouraged at the Ecole came to be called Beaux-Arts style. (Pile, 302)
The program at Ecole can also be defined as a "rigorous and organized program, which included classroom lectures on history, construction, and other specialized topics" (Pile, 302). Richard Morris Hunt studied at Ecole and brought back his Parisian training to New York. His eclectic viewpoint made it possible for him to work in any style that suited a particular project or taste of a particular client (Pile, 302).

When examining UK's design program, how do you relate the teaching method of Ecole to our curriculum? What would design be like in today's world if there was no individualism? How would this affect our learning method at UK? Why is it important to have knowledge of past styles just to move on with the present/future? Here's a thought: Without past styles, how would we ever know what "modern" is?

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.